Edgar Allen Poemont

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  1. Interesting comparison to Garfield too, Seams. To be honest, I didn't know much about that nomination. I just read a bit on Wiki. I was linking the actions of Sam and Jon's friends playing off the egos of Mallister and Pyke and their mutual dislike of each other to Lincoln's advisers working behind the scenes, particularly in regard to Seward and Chase. Lincoln was a way stronger candidate in his own right at the start then Jon certainly, but I like the parallel with Lincoln utilizing his rivals later in his cabinet like Jon tries to do with Marsh and Yarwyck. Lincoln was assassinated too and by a Southron Sympathizer! LOL. As far as emancipation goes, I don't doubt the wildings view themselves more as refugees as you say, but I think Mance brought them together with all the tools available to him. Outtalking Tormund, outmaneuvering Styr, etc., singing what needed to be sung, so to speak, like a lesson in wilding coalition building, in order to ironically lead the Free Folk to freedom from their original separation from the "realms of men." All this relates to a larger idea I have about Jon's purpose and the concept of emancipation politically and personally/spiritually for Jon, but I'm still working on that one. I just think the Rayder part of Mance's name is kind of obvious and maybe, a bit of a sleight of hand on GRRM's part and the connection came to me when I started looking at the possibility of Mance's role being more connected and involved than I originally thought.
  2. Mance Rayder/Emancipater. I think it's a crafty way of connecting Jon and Mance. Jon's election to Lord Commander is a definite homage to how Abraham Lincoln won the Republican nomination of 1860. I believe Mance was the first to attempt to emancipate the wildlings and Jon will be the Great Emancipater of the North.
  3. Lots of good input in this thread. I won't reiterate a lot of what's already been put forth but I really like the what Lady Blizzardborn had to say about monsters and men and Wild Bill's post on POV's dialogues, thoughts and motivations. I think both of those takes are essential to getting at a more fully realized analysis of what GRRM is presenting in ASoIaF. Concentrating on those things and really trying to understand why people do the things they do, both in terms of what most of us label as good or as evil, has been way more useful to my efforts in uncovering the mystery at the heart of the matter than anything else. One of the major themes, I believe GRRM is presenting, is what role fear plays in people's actions and decisions both internally and externally and in a sense, how it can turn them blind, deaf and mute; physically, mentally and spiritually. One of the best illustrations of this is the Others. What is an Other? ASoIaF is five books into the now planned seven book series and there have been exactly six Others seen directly by a POV in the epilogue of AGoT and one in a Samwell POV in ASoS. A grand total of seven assuming that the one Sam eliminated is not one of the original six from the epilogue, which is a big assumption. The death count total to human beings directly witnessed and attributed to an Other? I guess you could argue one for Waymar, although it was the shard from the shattered sword in the eye that actually killed Waymar, and one for Small Paul in the Samwell ASoS chapter. My point being, that nobody in present time Westeros has any idea what an Other is or what an Other can do or how many there are or if they, in fact, are even behind the raising of the wights. We have stories about them from history and folklore and rumors of them from the Wildlings and Craster, but such little direct encounter The only thing I know for certain about them is Sam, one of the most fearful characters in the series by his admission, stabbed one with a dagger made of obsidian and it transformed into nothing. If you reread that chapter, Samwell 1 in ASoS , you notice his inner monologue is riddled with fear, some hope emerges, then more fear and it's not just fear of what's happening on The Fist. It's a jumble of all his fears. Then at the climactic scene, we get some courage from Grenn and Small Paul, but it's Sam who finally faces his biggest fear and it's Jon's words he hears in his mind that finally spur him into acting. The words of his brother and protector, who he believes is dead urging him to face the threat right in front of him. The words of his friend who loves him even when he is afraid and who recognized his worth as a human being and stood on his behalf when it might not have even been in Jon's self interest to do so. It seems to me that it has less to do with the obsidian and more to do with the power behind the obsidian. I'm convinced it won't be the flaming sword of Azor Ahai either. My personal take on the Others is that they are an actual material presence in the world of ASoIaF but I tend to view them more symbolically. They gain strength from humanity's fears but people do most of the dirty work themselves, by failing to confront their own fears and projecting those fears onto others and turning others into monsters or inferiors and treating or reacting to each other as such. If the wars and violence and destruction occurring in the 7 Kingdoms continue on the same course, there may not be anything left for the Others anyway.
  4. I definitely think Rhaegar struggled mightily with his family's expectations of him. I think he struggled also with what he believed to be his calling to be a scholar like Aemon and the expectation that he should be or was destined to be a warrior. The expectations that families place on children and the reality of what they may truly be or truly want to be is a central and recurring theme in ASoIaF. You can see it the relationship between Sam and Randyl Tarly in an excessively harsh manner and you can see it between Eddard and Arya in a more accepting and gentle manner. It repeats throughout the novels in tons of different ways. With regard to Rhaegar and Aerys, I believe Aerys forced Rhaegar to give up his desire to be a scholar and take up the sword because Aerys believed the PTwP was supposed to be a great warrior and that it was Rhaegar's duty to fulfill the prophecy. I also believe Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna under a direct order from Aerys, not because he was in love with her. A common assumption I think many readers make is that the PTwP prophecy was only known to a few Targaryens or even to Rhaegar alone until he revealed it to Aemon. I think that's untrue. Summerhall was an attempt to create a PTwP too. Melisandre has knowledge of the prophecy. The Ghost of High Heart was aware of it. What I do believe to be true is that none of them have the complete prophecy and in trying to make it happen or force it to happen, they wind up unleashing all kinds of destruction. Aerys was very aware of the prophecy and I think probably beleived it was his duty to make it happen and used all manner of horrible and manipulative methods to do it, including forcing his son to do horrible and manipulative things.
  5. What I find very telling after Jon reads the letter to Toregg is Toregg picks up on the mention of Mance and Jon almost tells him about Melisandre's ploy but holds back. He thinks of her words of warning but doesn't send for her. Toregg suggests it's all lies but Jon refocuses on Mance and then his worries about what happened, not only with Mance but Stannis. Now Toregg at this point has become, probably, Jon's most trustworthy friend and ally and defers to Jon's authority and judgement. He offers his counsel but recognizes Jon as the leader. I really like this relationship.Toregg doesn't even know much of what the letter is talking about but knows full well it has Jon in a serious dilemma. Then Jon arrives at the most personal worries and feelings of grief and lingering guilt and horror and love all tangled up together. kissedbyfire dropped the main paragraph of this quote upthread in the middle of a vigorous and at times heated discussion of the political ramifications of Jon's decisions and Bowen's decisions and the concepts of oathbreaking, ruling authority etc. and for me personally it was the best quote at the best time. It brought me right back to what I think is the most crucial theme of ASoIaF and what I honestly believe it to be: What is love and what is it's power? Jon contemplates the political ramifications. He contemplates the ideals of honor and duty. He contemplates the pain of growth. He contemplates the pain of loss. He contemplates the fear of not knowing. Most crucially, he contemplates the destruction of innocence and the cruelty and horror of murder and enslavement. He chooses love and finally for a brief two hours he stops charging ahead and butting heads and worrying. He admits to himself he needs to revise his plans. He needs to become the leader he is meant to be. He knows it but he still hasn't figured it out completely, but in one of GRRM's finest underated lines, in my opinion, he begins a better process. He admits it's beyond his control. He starts a new dialogue. He talks to a friend for two hours. The process is the correct one for a leader. He has even noted it previously in a reference to Stannis' method of ruling. Unfortunately, the two hours are all Jon takes and he doesn't include the full group of advisers available to him for a myriad of reasons, the primary one I believe is he still has not fully accepted the Wall is his and he is the Wall's ruling authority. He has not yet let go of the boy and become the man. He clings to it still. He flexes his sword hand but he has also taken the most critical step simultaneously in a way. He closes his fist and then opens it. Anger, frustration and hopelessness give way to openess and with it, a faint glimmer of hope. Jon the leaves his quarters and wrestles Ghost back inside. The pattern starts again. He notes his distrust of Borroq, a man coincidentally, who if he were to be turned into an ally could help Jon harness his gift. Then, comes the wonderfully evocative decriptive passage of the Shieldhall and what it once stood for and how it has slid into decay over the years due to neglect and the absence of knights who chose to serve the Black. I also believe it shows the ties to family they all brought with them and that although those ties may be set aside for the common purpose, they are never completely severed until death. Upon death they are taken down and buried with the dead in a symbolic gesture to their sacrifice. The end of centuries of tradition and now the wildlings outnumber the crows by five to one. Black takes in all colors of the rainbow. It was once an honored tradition and one of the Wall's greatest strength, but also I think it hints at the hope still there in the decay. There may no longer be a need for knights to be seperate and dine alone anymore, because when Winter arrives, all people face the choice of whether to face it together or alone or not at all. The room is akin to wasp's nest buzzing with tension. Toregg blows his literal horn once, not his figurative one for once, as a call for quiet and "Silence fell". One blow. The rangers return. Jon states the crux of the dilemma of Hardhome. He notes who is present and who is not, but his mind is calm. He does not have extraneous thoughts. He is speaking openly and is present. He reveals he has delegated authority and responsibility for Hardhome to Toregg. Then Borroq questions his courage and hints at the misunderstandings that abound around the nature of skinchanging. a challenge to Jon personally. Borroq wants to know if he's ready to accept his power or hide from the judgement of ignorance that other men hold. At one point, previously, Borroq had even addressed Jon as "Brother" and Jon rejected the connection. It's a unifying move in one sense but also a confusing and potentially dangerous move and one directly connected to the tragedy coming. I think the wildlings to a great deal must respond to the letter with the same bewilderment and confusion as Toregg, but what they do respond to is the man reading it. Jon has made a move towards openess. He doesn't hide the letter and plot the downfall of Ramsey, but is it a judicious use of honesty? Has he revealed too much to soon? I would contend for the wildlings, no, but for the Watch, yes. Tormund sounds his horn again, one blast but "twice as long and twice as loud." Two blasts herald the sighting of wildlings. I think it symbolically unites the Watch and the Free Folk. It is no longer a signal of danger and it is no longer a signal of a sighting but a signal of acceptance of their presence. The treaty is fulfilled. The deal with Stannis to secure their services is complete. They are part of the Watch. They are Jon's swords as LC of the Watch. The wildlings are part of the effort now, in their own way and still with their concerns and agendas and shortcomings, but I contend at this moment, Jon has solidified his leadership of the wildlings on the Wall and they in turn accepted his leadership. Jon also has not broken his oath, in fact, he's broadened it to include more help. If at this point, Jon had stopped again for a few hours to confer with more advisers and included The Free Folk and The Watch and The Queen's Men and Melisandre and Selyse and asserted his command, things would have been different, not even necessarily better or worse, but different. He doesn't though and it's not because he's stupid or morally weak or the worst strategic leader in the history of the Watch. Quite the contrary, actually, Jon is intelligent, honorable and thoughtful and has a greater capacity and vision for what it will take to survive The Winds of Winter than anyone else on the Wall. However, he is human. He makes mistakes. He misinterprets things. Also, there are other forces at work beyond his or any other character's ability to fully comprehend or control or avoid, as well and some of the dangerous forces are very immediate and some are not, but all of them are shrouded in secrecy, lies, manipulation, ignorance and betrayal. However, the dangerous forces are not the only forces at work and I will discuss both more in my next post.
  6. Please do. I'm hoping to revive this thread as much as possible and others will benefit from the input too. I'm heading to bed but will look forward to reading your thoughts tomorrow.
  7. Thank you Lyanna<Rhaegar. I appreciate the encouragement. I actually had to take a break from the forum for a few weeks to work this out, because I've been wrestling with it for quite awhile and really felt I had to get as much of it down as I could. A brief stretch of anxious insomnia helped with the searching and some insights but I realized writing it down was the best way to work it out. My screen name I thought would be a fitting tribute to my love of the raven/crow motif but also the Old Bear. I love that man. Plus Edgar Allen would have loved wights! I find that contrast to what Ned would have done very interesting too, divica. I think one of Jon's biggest struggles is how he views Ned and hoe he feels he might never be good enough to measure up to the standard of the Ned, but he recognizes in a number of passages that Ned was a man too and had his shortcomings and made mistakes also. It's part of the maturation process. Many of us fear we will become like our parents! Jon fears he never can. I did notice the political ramifications and have asserted in other posts on this thread I believe Jon had the political authority to do so, within the boundary of the Wall and Gift, I believe he has that authority.I also maintain he broke no oath or pledge in doing so, but of course, we know the Wall isn't as isolated as it once was, so there are reverberations. I just believe it was done in accordance with the gods and will bear more good than harm. I also believe he broke no oath in regards to Mance. It may have been a political mistake, in a sense, but again I think the gods have further use of Mance too and while short term it may have been a mistake, I think long term it will prove to have been for the best too. I kind of view his relationship with Melisandre as almost equal amounts attraction (beauty, power) and repulsion (deplorable methods, untrustworthy counsel) but I think her end will come from somewhere and someone else, probably through some of her own manipulations too. I'm glad GRRM included the Melisandre POV chapter though, because it humanized her more for me. I see her less as a shadowy witch and more as a woman who rose from slavery and became very powerful in ability and faithful to her cause but think she is also riddled with doubt and has a very narrow worldview. I think her intentions are noble but her methods fail to recognize the trail of tears she is sowing in her wake. She also asserts her absolute faith in R'hllor, but if the Lord of Light is all powerful and she is his best prophetess than why does she need Stannis?
  8. Thanks for responding divica. I was afraid this thread was maybe lost. I'm happy someone took the time to read my thoughts, as I know it is a somewhat long post and I still have a part two in progress, dealing with the Bowen and company but I think you hit the nail on the head when you say I think a lot of what happens in ASoIaF(and planet Earth, for that matter) is a result of how people respond to the world around them based on feelings of fear. It can overwhelm our judgement, our senses and our values. Some fears are immediate and very real and some are distant and vague, but fear is a feeling and feelings are the tools we use to inform our judgement, senses and values and indeed our choices and in some situations it's excruciatingly hard to discern what we feel from what we know, especially when we truly recognize we don't know everything and need each other to come to truth. Now, I don't believe Jon hates Melisandre but he definitely mistrusts her intentions, methods and interpretation of her visions. He's correct in this assessment, but he also recognizes the value of her power and the benefit it could offer him and his efforts. What I have come to really appreciate about the "girl on the grey horse" vision is that it was true in it's prediction but off in it's interpretation. Both Jon and Melisandre want it to be Arya, for two different reasons and therefore believe it because they want to believe it. However, it's outcome in the fact that it is Alys and not Arya directly results in what I believe is and will continue to be shown to be one of Jon's best achievements. It wasn't his will or Melisandre's will that brought Alys to the Wall, but it was Jon's ability as a leader and his keen judgement of the situation, that saved a girl, not unlike Arya, from a horrible fate at the hands of her Uncles, who see her chiefly as a pawn in their game. He also pragmatically sealed an alliance with one of the chief leaders of the wildlings in Sigorn, a man who had no love or respect for Jon at all, due to the death of his father, Styr. Sigorn was probably not Alys first choice as a husband (she was even a little sweet on Jon initially) but by the end of the marriage ceremony seems relieved and a little hopeful and Sigorn seems shyly elated to me in his bride and willing to let go of his hostility to Jon. Jon had conflicting feelings and concerns but they didn't overwhelm him. He made a wise and constructive use of a misinterpreted vision's reality and let go of some of his fear of what trouble Sigorn could potentially cause, which was a vague threat to Jon's leadership not a direct one.
  9. First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the people who come to this site to tangle with the colossus that is ASoIaF and want to especially thank this thread for stretching my understanding in so many ways. I honestly believe it has changed and expanded my efforts in ways that I never expected and appreciate the encouragement and affirmation for my efforts as well as the criticism and denials. I also feel like I should freely and unabashedly admit Jon Snow is my favorite character and will probably always be, up to and until the last page of ADoS passes before my eyes and into my heart and soul, gods willing. I love other characters wholeheartedly too, but Jon was my most immediate and visceral portal into the squalor and splendor that is Westeros. I was a 14 year old boy getting drunk with the other riff raff at the lower tables once too and more times than not woke up the next day with a headache and a dog eared copy of some sci fi or fantasy classic. Times change but men do not, unless they choose to do so. I mentioned on another thread I picked up a copy of AGoT on a whim one day while grocery shopping because there was buzz about the other version and I was curious. I hadn't read a fantasy novel in more years than I will admit and feel blessed that I returned to where I began. It sat on my table for a month. I picked it up a handful of times and thought, "What are wildlings? What is an Other? Why do they always mix real names with made up ones?" But after a few attempts, I was in the flow with really no other preconceived notions except I knew there were dragons and my brother told me the other version had lots of sex and nudity. Two things I happen to enjoy. That got me as far as AGoT, Bran 1 and as they say, the rest is history and mythology and mystery and magic and violence and hate and war and religion and politics and love and the promise of peace... well you've all read the books, but Jon was the one who I needed to seal to the deal for me. "Many roads lead to the same castle." I even went to my local bookstore for ADWD and was surprised when the clerk brought out a hardcover and even more surprised to find out the series wasn't even finished! All of this is to say, I feel I was fortunate to get my first full read without any real outside input except what GRRM put down on the pages, because I was able to transport myself back to that 14 year old sense of wonder and imagination and at this point in my life, trust me, that is a rare and precious thing. I won't experience the final two books in the same manner, except that I have faith GRRM will surprise and baffle and delight me in ways I haven't guessed. Now I came to this site and other sites because I wanted to learn what the group mind had to offer and be open to new ways of looking at the novels and have been astonished at times, how much it has increased my appreciation and awareness and sometimes it comes from unexpected places. But openness was my vow. It's not just an intellectual puzzle. If it upsets me, I try to ask myself why. Sometimes Patchface knows more than Tyrion, and Mully more than Jon, but always and I mean always, listen to your Direwolf! I promised a few weeks ago to visit The Garden of Gethsemarsh and I meant it, but first I needed to take some time to reflect on what I should say and how and what the power of a moment of clarity holds. I also want to thank kissedbyfire for her graceful generosity and dedication to these books and this site as, I think, 10,000 plus posts and counting attests and her uncanny ability to drop nuggets of gold into the middle of any discussion and for dropping the perfect quote for me personally when I needed it, proving words matter and miracles happen. I bend a knee. I also want to thank Widowmaker 811 for "snarling in the midst of all" because he helped me look deeper and maybe I wouldn't have otherwise. I extend a hand. Mysteries great and small are what I believe the master is asking us to look at and he's given us clues great and small from his first word but: What is an Other?, I believe is the biggest of them all, followed by a number of others including: What do Dragons know? Why is the Sphinx the Riddle? Where do Whores go? GRRM is truly a master and I owe him a debt of gratitude I will never be able to pay directly, for the Song he has brought us, but even if I had the chance to kneel and pledge, I know beyond the Shadow of Asshai, he would snort like an Old Bear and tell me to put my sword on, because I'm going to need it. So, all that being said, I would like to say a few things and drop a few quotes to hopefully further this discussion. I've been asserting the idea that Jon assumed a ruling authority when he became Lord Commander that was akin to a king within the boundaries of the Wall but maybe it's more helpful to think of it more like the authority that Doran holds in Dorne. We know the title of the Prince of Dorne is largely ceremonial and ruling authority similar to that of a Lord in any of the other Kingdoms but again I think GRRM purposefully leaves some of the legal distinctions vague and why he may have done so, was to set up a contrasting parallel between Doran in the South and Jon in the North, much the way I read somewhere that he wanted to do between Cersei and Daenarys. I don't have the SSM but believe it was one of the harder decisions for him when he split AFfC and ADwD to not be able to have us read them together and I think he wanted us to do the same with Jon and Doran. One of the reasons, I think, is about temperament and decision making in both cases and it's a really crafty one. Doran sits and thinks and broods and never seems to act, whereas Jon moves constantly, trains constantly and makes loads of decisions and commands as he deems necessary. One is plotting at a glacial pace and one is forging ahead and they are both worried about where those plans are headed, what might happen to foil them and especially worried about what has or may happen to someone they love; Quentyn and Arya. Someone up thread and I wish I could find it, mentioned the pacing of Jon's final chapter and how he felt it almost seemed rushed to the printing press and it reminded me of some of my feelings of frustration reading Jon's chapters, most notably the chapters revolving around his plans for letting the wildlings through the Wall and how dense Bowen and Yarwyck seem to be. I believe it's intentional on GRRM's part and a sublime use of the POV technique. I think a careful analysis of Jon's thoughts and his feelings throughout ASoIaF are very illuminating, but it seems to me it gets ramped up significantly by Jon Chapter 13. I think GRRM wants us to feel Jon's frustration and he wants us to look at why and what the reasons are for that frustration, but I think most importantly he wants us to feel it. I believe the same of Doran, but this is a thread for the Watch. I hope to find time in the future to do an AFfDwD reading because I wonder if it adds insight. This one in particular has stuck with me from my first reading and I'm glad it did because I picked up my book and looked to see what I could find and it helped me pick up on a few others that I think are crucial to a better glimpse into unraveling what happens in Jon Chapter 13. Probably the hardest, coldest, but most prudent message Jon needs to hear, from one of the worst possible candidates to tell him and later it's reiterated by Melisandre. We know Hardhome is probably a lost cause because we have more information available to us than Jon does, but even without the full picture, the message is most likely true. He can't save them. He doesn't have the men or resources to do so and his mind seems to get more and more focused on it and in some ways, blind to the bigger picture around him. It's a noble and even practical desire to a certain extent, but probably in vain regardless. The thing that finally dawned on me though was his emotional state. He is worried he can't convince enough people and scared he might be wrong and then angry to the point of projecting what the answer will be and when he gets what he feared, the disappointment cuts even harder than he expected. The queen kisses her child and he judges the way she does it. Now I would suggest a reread and note that Selyse gives as good as she gets, but it's Jon's POV for a reason. I think this next passage is interesting too. Sarcasm mixed a bit with scorn from Jon, he has little respect for her viewpoint, as he recognizes the ignorance contained in it and is, I believe, angry he has to defer to her in her rank as Queen. He also recognizes her scorn directed at him and his viewpoints. When he persists despite all that, he gets a brusque dismissal. Interestingly too, this exchange also comes on the heels of a joke from Patchface (which I believe hints at Jon's resurrection) and Jon is "less amused" than the assembled Queen's Men and I think he feels thay are mocking him and his efforts. He leaves in a rush and encounters Melisandre. Again his thoughts are turn to sarcasm with the mention of "murderous wildlings" and anger at the Queen's ignorance, but then he adopts the Queen's dismissive tone with Melisandre. "I think not." "I have duties." The isolation of his command and the adoption of an imperious tone. He believes Mel has power and wants to believe it will help him, but he dismisses her as being below him in the ranking. They argue somewhat about the validity and value of her help and I think as a result he misses her most crucial counsel, "Where is your direwolf?" Jon has isolated himself from his best friends and most ardent supporters but most critically has shut himself off from his most potent power, the direwolf, which I believe is a totemic connection to the will and power of the gods. Melisandre admits she is imperfect and Jon concludes that only a fool would believe her, so even though he knows she has power, he almost seems to label himself a fool, as he is running out of hope and he rejects her counsel. The clincher for me in this passage too, is his thought "Where is my sister?" He is immersed in feelings of anger and frustration at what he believes to be the potential unraveling of his plans and his best work as LC, but his mind goes to his most personal and perhaps, worst fear; Arya's death or maybe even fate worse than death. After leaving Melisandre he engages Leathers in another discussion of the logistics of the Hardhome mission. Interpersed with the dialogue are Jon's thoughts and doubts. Leathers is a fine swordsman and able Master at Arms but he is probably not the wisest adviser. Then the pivotal confrontation with Ghost. This passage always struck me because Ghost is oviously agitated but most tellingly he is angry with Jon too and I believe it's because Ghost is trying to tell Jon exactly what Jon tells Ghost: Easy. Stop running. Sit down. Think this through. Listen to your heart. Use the power the gods have given you! I also love that Mormon't raven, another totemic vessel is agitated as well and screaming his name, but Jon can't hear the warnings or doesn't know how to listen. He is locked into his frantically searching mind. Jon resolves to blame the boar ( who I believe plays a part in the overall tapestry of ASoIaF, as Robert was killed by a boar, but that's for another thread) and it echoes the same rationale he gave to Melisandre earlier when they discuss Ghost. I think it even reflects some of the same ignorance that Yarwyck displays in his observations of the boar army and his ignorance of skinchanging. Jon has the power but he resists using it out of fear of how he would be perceived and also because of a lack of knowledge. Then enter Bowen and Yarwyck. I won't pull a lot of quotes because I think we all have a good understanding of the conflicts and tensions between Jon and Marsh, in particular, but also with Jon and other members of the Watch. Jon believes what he is doing with regards to the wildlings is in everyones best interest and I think it is too, but his hardest task is teaching and enlightening his Sworn Brothers. It is easier to convince the wildlings to trust him, even with the hostages, I believe, because Jon's truce gives them hope. The doubting brothers of the Watch, however, are less faithful. Many are riddled with fear and doubt and prejudice and some, like Bowen worry that Jon't methods will get them all killed. So, after the final argument with them we get another passage that I find pivotal. Jon reiterates his desire for real help and real counsel but I think from the viewpoint that though, they both "were no lickspittles," the are "seldom any help either." He's beyond tired of fighting with their prejudices and fears and ignorance. He's reached a point of despair coupled with excessive pride. Jon has lost hope. He believes his worst fears will come true. Bowen for his part reminds Jon of his personal wounds but also his utter antipathy for Jon's refusal to listen to him and I think, maybe also a recognition that sometimes Jon wants approval more than counsel. He wants them to tell him what he wants to hear, rather than maybe what he needs to hear. I think that the hard truth is that despite Jon's best intentions and courage and wisdom and compassion and strength and learning, he can't possibly solve his dilemma and he can't save everyone. In fact, the gods aren't calling him to save everyone. They are calling him to lead and even though he does it better than anyone else the watch has to offer, he doubts his abilities and he fears the fruit his endeavors will bear. If Jon had been able to set aside his stubborn pride and surrender to his faith, he would unlock the fullness of his potential and realize the power that is right in front of him and has been guiding him since chapter 1 of AgoT, and the final line of the paragraph would have read "What it had instead was me," and the recognition the gods have placed him there to take those lessons of the former leaders, honor his oath and lead the NW toward the fulfillment of their vows. Jon has transferred his inner crisis of doubt and his failure to recognize his truest strengths to his brothers inability to recognize the value of his efforts. Quite simply stated, I believe, Jon wants to be the Warrior but the gods are telling him he is called to be the Father. He wants to be a Lord Commander but the gods are telling him he is called to be a Prince and that is what lead me to the Garden of Gethsemarsh. After the meeting with Bowen and Yarwyck, Jon moves quickly towards his reckoning but the warnings don't cease. He finds some solace in Tormund's company and the last gathering in his apartments. . He reminds himself of his desire to learn more about the wights and what to do about Cregan. All things that he knows are important to learn about and understand, but he's unable to shake the worry and the obsessive need to solve the dilemma of Hardhome. Mormont's raven urges him to eat and that subtle "Corn? Corn? Corn?" warning of where he is headed. Then the bombshell of the Pink Letter with one of my favorite serious jokes. The seriousness of the letter is evident in Clydas' demeanor. Tormund is almost silenced (Har! Fer Once Almost) by the implication of gravity but Jon again resorts to sarcasm in the face of another unwanted intrusion on his overwrought plans. Mully then offers Jon maybe the last best bit of wisdom he will get before the reading of the letter and the events of the Shieldhall and he dismisses it out of hand. Winter has arrived. Melisandre warned him it was close and his efforst were in vain. She told him to look to the skies and he sees that as the "Dark wings, dark words," of the letter but just prior to his Ghost confrontation he had gotten another sign from his gods. I think it's a call to him to stay his course and use his power to cement the bond between the wildlings and the Watch and also a call to pray and ask for guidance before the full storm arrives. It reminds me of Melisandre seeing Snow in her fires, but Jon lacks the full awareness of faith he needs to recognize the signs. He doesn't yet recognize it's his power. The Wall is his wall. Snow is his element. He is the snow sky and the white is the light of truth. The power to unlock the mystery of the Other. But the Pink Letter, even with him and Toregg realizing it contains half truths and impossible demands, breaks most of the last strands of Jon's hope. It inflames his worst fears and feelings of guilt and the utter shock and despair and hopelessness of believing he has lost all of the people he holds most dear in his heart, excep, perhap, for one. The faint glimmer that Arya, his beacon of innocence and love may be alive. He makes the choice I would make and I believe most people would. We know it's a "fool's hope" in that it's not even Arya, but Jon doesn't. He clings to it like it's a fading ember and all his other worries recede. He puts Hardhome and the potential for all the dangers around him aside and focuses on the most personal and poignant of his fears and I think resolves to take the power of the wildlings as his own and many of them readily agree to follow him. He chooses to be the Warrior, but again, I believe the gods want him for another purpose. I have much and more to say on this but am still working on the Shieldhall and assassination scenes. I hope it speaks to some and hope my delay in getting this down hasn't atrophied this thread to the point of no return. It's a great topic.
  10. I apologize for disappearing in the middle of this wonderful discussion, but I got sidetracked by a lengthy analysis I've been working on that arose from the thread For the Night's Watch. I hope to get that posted soon, but I've been trying my best to keep an eye on this thread too. Someone up thread (LynnS, I think, can't find it now) mentioned that Aerys seems conspicuously absent from the Howland story but also he's not mentioned much by Barristan either and I think it's for a reason. I think GRRM is keeping him in the background a bit for a few reasons. One, I believe is his crafty use of the Mad King sobriquet. His actions that we learn of are mostly horrible and he is definitely painted as a paranoid lunatic, but I think in part it is done so we, as the readers, and indeed many in world characters, tend to discount him somewhat. I think one of the subtle prejudices that many people have, myself included at times, is that people are the sum total of their craziness. We know his actions have had far reaching consequences and that he seems almost consumed by suspicion and fear but how many of us recognize his cunning? For instance, his manipulation of Jaime and Tywin was a master stroke. He played to the son's dreams and put the father on the defensive with one move. How many of us assume he has been manipulated by the whispers of Varys, who I think many consider a master player and probably rightly so, but what if despite his madness he is also a master manipulator? I'm beginning to think he was and GRRM is keeping it quiet in a similar way to what he has done with Howland. Howland knows too much to reveal all at once, but what if Aerys had his long creepy fingernails entwined in too much to reveal to soon. I think the whole Lyanna incident may have been orchestrated by him. My supposition is that maybe Aerys heard the story of the brave young she wolf and decided she was a worthy warrior princess, strong enough to bear a dragon, unlike Elia, who I think he chose because it would spite Tywin and also for the Princess Nymeria blood but he ended up angered at her weakness. I think Aerys was trying to complete the prophecy too and it was him who forced Rhaegar to put down the books and pick up the sword, in a similar fashion to Samwell and Randyll Tarly. He believed the PTWP was to be a warrior and not one who reads or dreams or serves. I think maybe he made Rhaegar choose Lyanna over, quite possibly Ashara, knowing it would destroy Rhaegar's political manueverings and also draw a former king and his heir to the Red Keep for another attempt at dragon making. Then a KotLT shows up out of nowhere and threatens Aerys counter manuevers. The Kingsguard may have been Rhaegar's friends but they were sworn to Aerys.
  11. Ernest Hemingway has a great line about literature that I will paraphrase. He compares stories to an ice burg and asserts that we only really see or read about 30% of the whole and that the other 70% is underwater. As readers we are called to bring our knowledge, experience and even intuition into the process of understanding as much of what lies underwater as we can. I think it's true in life too. Nobody knows everything but we have to draw conclusions or sometimes make assumptions based on incomplete facts or awareness. We notice what we notice and think about what strikes us and try to make sense of it in the here and now, but the real work comes in the studying and the reflection and the questioning when our assumptions or beliefs are shown to be more incomplete than we realized. I think GRRM has an exceptional understanding of that process, not only for us the readers but also in how his characters interact with the world of Westerosi. I bring this up because I was thinking today about how the Meera story told to Bran is like a POV within a POV. It's mostly, I think, a story that had enormous impact on Howland Reed to the point where he told it over and over again to his children in the hope that it's importance wouldn't be lost to time and memory. However, the details are to a great extent revealed through Howland's POV and the focus is on those details that most affected him personally or that he remembered most clearly. Interestingly too, Meera and Jojen have there own personal feelings and understanding of what Howland taught them and that reflects somewhat in how they relate the story to Bran and then his feelings and understanding affect how he is hearing it and Meera changes her delivery somewhat based on that exchange. I find that skill on GRRM's part and his awareness of human interaction masterful. I remember when I first read that chapter, I got excited that it was going to be a big reveal and when I finished it, I was probably more confused than when I started. It's dense and layered with symbols and I remember feeling the mystery just got bigger, not clearer! How like life really. I'm glad Alaskan Sandman brought up the discussion on brothers and the interactions that Howland notices and the ones that don't seem to register at all. I actually started thinking about the possibility of Mance as the KotLT from that direction. I've been looking a lot at what I think GRRM is doing with the concepts of what constitutes brotherhood and sisterhood, fatherhood and motherhood etc., not only in a direct familial sense but also in a larger communal sense. I believe he wants us to examine those relationships and the impact they have on the characters, especially in their abilities to recognize and inabilities to recognize their part in the whole tapestry. In keeping with the OP though, because it is related mostly from Howland's POV funneled through his children, it gives tons of symbolic ties to other characters but it also has gaps. It's one characters perspective and so the scene where he is accosted by the squires and defended by Lyanna almost seems to be happening in a vacuum, away from all other eyes, because Howland's awareness was focused on what was happening to him. We the readers know it's happening , if not in the middle, then certainly in the vicinity of a large group of people. There were witnesses and I think enough witnesses to spread a story of a pretty young woman with enough strength, skill with a tourney sword and courage to drive off three squires and rescue a man child from a humiliating and prejudiced beat down. I have some thoughts on how that story may have affected a number of other characters but will have to come back to that another time. I wanted to comment also on the mention of a NW man giving a speech at the dinner and again suggest because it's experienced through Howland's eyes it's not surprising he only mentions a single NW. Someone upthread mentioned Denys Mallister as a possibility for that man and I got a little chill. It makes sense. He's a knight from a distinguished family and would be a most appropriate member of the Watch to give a plea to the assembled nobles at the high table, where Howland was invited to sit by the noble Stark family. It doesn't mean he was the only NW member at the tourney though, just the one Howland remembers seeing at the high table. Why did it give me a little chill?
  12. He might not have been able to save the first woman he truly loved though, if what I'm suggesting plays out in TWoW. I think all of GRRM's characters have talents and shortcomings. He also broke his oath to the NW and I believe the gods take those oaths seriously, despite even the best intentions or the most valid reasons for doing so. I also think GRRM holds back on the full background of any character until the time is right.
  13. A little text before bed.
  14. Lol. Right? I must admit on my first read I sort of dismissed him too, largely because I think I thought his name was a little silly and took on the Westerosi assumption that the King Beyond the Wall is no real King at all. I think I was wrong on both accounts. I'm not sure if we have a set year for his birth, but I tend to think he's maybe a few years younger than Eddard. It would stand to reason, if that's the case, that he would have been around a mid to later teen maybe at the Tourney of Harrenhal and that as he is cuurently a middle aged man of middling height as KBtW, he may have been smallish as a youth, somewhat like Loras or even Jon.
  15. Thanks Curled Finger. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the books and trying to examine some of the ways I maybe miss things by clinging to assumptions I may have or in some sense, maybe what I want to be true, based on my emotional attachment to characters and my hopes for what they will do or be. I've found it very insightful. I believe in using text and quotes to back up my ideas but it's a lot of work and tonight I'm a little short on time, but I wanted to a least write down some of what I've been thinking about because it helps flesh it out some in my mind. I've also been trying to trust my intuition a bit more and relying on the spirit of questioning and being open to possibilities in the connections you can make sometimes, just by daydreaming and wondering. If something strikes me I go back and try to reread with those things in mind. It can be really helpful and I sensed this thread had that spirit. A lot of whys and what do you thinks and a lot less arguing, which I find way more useful in my quest in unraveling the ASoIaF colossus. I agree I like that synchronicity too about all the once and future Kings being there. I think GRRM is saying something there and I really believe he is a master at weaving parallels and themes and he wants us to follow as many of the ones that strike us as we can. I also think he is a master not only at subverting literary tropes but also has a fantastic handle on human nature and the ways we interact with each other and the ways we try to control people and situations and environments around us, sometimes for selfish reasons and sometimes for noble reasons, but ultimately how we have so little control over the big picture. Best laid plans of mice and men, so to speak.